The Good Life: My Argument for the Objective List Theory

What value theory do you subscribe to?

The value theory I have adopted is the objective list theory. I chose this theory of well-being by process of elimination. I do not believe the desire theory is reasonable, because it has several difficulties that I cannot overlook. Now, I must consider hedonism and the objective list theory. Hedonism is attractive in the sense that it allows the individual to decide what constitutes their own well-being, and explains why there are so many different paths to happiness (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Yet, as Foot’s [lobotomy] example pointed out, happiness does not always equate to a good life. You can be happy, but be lacking in other aspects that are an important part of the human experience. The arguments that I found to be truly compelling were the Argument from False Happiness, and the Argument from Autonomy (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Of course, I desire to be happy, some of this happiness comes from fulfilling my desires, but I would not consider the relinquishment of autonomy or truth an adequate price to pay for happiness. Awareness of the presence of paternalism or deception would greatly affect my happiness. Therefore, happiness is intrinsically valuable, but it is not sufficient for a good life. I chose the objective list theory because I believe there are things that make our lives good, even if we do not value them, or believe they will benefit our lives. I do not believe our desires always contribute to well-being, because these desires could be influenced by culture, lack of self-worth, lack of education/understanding, or a combination of two or more of these factors. Of course, I do not believe I have composed an exhaustive list of what is intrinsically valuable, but I have tentatively identified a few.

1.       Virtue

2.       Autonomy

3.       Happiness

4.       Knowledge

5.       Achievement

6.       Truth

Why Objective List Theory?

As I stated above, I found several manifest deficiencies in the desire theory. The issues I found to be most obvious are that desire theory does not take into account the desires of people who have been psychologically sculpted to desire things that obviously not contribute to their well-being, or how most of us don’t really know what we truly desire, as John McEnroe’s autobiography exemplified (Shafer-Landau, 2015). I could not adopt Hedonism because I cannot accept happiness is sufficient to a good life—the experience machine objection expertly argues this point. I believe truth, autonomy, achievement, knowledge, happiness, and virtue to be intrinsically valuable, and I am prepared to sacrifice happiness in some instances to gain other things of intrinsic value.

What arguments against the objective list theory concern you?

I do not find any of the criticisms of the objective list theory to be troubling. However, I do believe it might be counterintuitive for some people to believe that something you do not value or desire could make your life better. I would argue this point by noting that knowledge is by definition something you know. If you do not know of it, you cannot desire it, but knowledge is something that makes your life better once you attain it.

References:

Shafer-Landau, R. (2015). Fundamentals of Ethics. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Quote of the Day

“Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we’ve utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.

So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.”
Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

Quote of the Day

“I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling (though I’m not knocking them), but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Quote of the Day

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.

-Karl Marx

What happened?

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People are so different than they were portrayed to me as a child.

Even though I fall into the dysfunctional childhood half of the population the values taught to me at home and in school were very similar to the “normal” half. I was taught not to steal, lie, or cheat. I was taught to share and show consideration and fairness. When did we become so decadent?  When did it begin to be okay to steal in the context of grossly overcharging for a service or product? Why can the person from an affluent home with less ambition and intelligence go to the better school? The true inventor is often disregarded while the producer lauded. Doesn’t matter when or why, things changed.

Why can’t I just enjoy things like I used to? I truly enjoyed life. Looked upon it with awe. Music, art, sports, animals, nature, arts and crafts, family, books, dialogue…Now I spend my day reading bad news and trying to figure out how to bring awareness to things sometimes I wish I didn’t know. No wonder the tribes in the Amazon don’t want to contact the outside world. Constantly enslaved to the phone and always going and going. Never truly enjoying the only thing we possess- the right now. Oh well.

Cheers! To making it to retirement…